I am a painter, not much else. Houses are what I mostly work on, sometimes apartments. It’s not glamorous but it pays the bills and puts food on the table. I have a wife and two boys. Eight and twelve. They really grow up fast, shit. I paint and I eat with my family and I go to sleep. Things are steady. I love my wife and my kids, but I am angry. I am tired of all of this. I paint. I eat. I hug my kids. I go to sleep. I wake up and repeat six days a week, and I am angry. I can do better, for them at least. I can do better. But I am tired. I paint and I paint and I paint and I sweat – and I get a check. No one congratulates me and no one notices me. I kind of ... blend in with the paint. I don’t like my work, but I am good at it. I am quick and I am efficient. I am a hard worker, but I get tired like the rest of you. Sometimes I just want to hop off the ladder, remove my overalls and walk – doesn’t matter too much where. I want to walk until everything is all right. I paint houses for rich white men who enjoy the feeling of masturbation. Men who want the house painted because their wives want the house painted. “Change,” she says. “Change is good, so let’s accept it. Let’s paint the house, honey.” Men with nice black slacks who drive nice black cars. Men who define success as blind attention – devotion for the sake of devotion. I don’t want to be like that. I want success and money for my family, but I can’t become someone I am not. I am a painter, not much else. My family is my everything, my only motivation. A little selfish isn’t it? To bring two more people into this world so you’ll care about yours enough to keep going. It’s what we did though. Now we have two boys and I work for them. I put up with horseshit for them. And for her. She is the only woman I will ever love.
I was painting a rich white man’s house last week when he came out of the back door and mentioned a spot I had missed. He pointed to it and became angry. “Why haven’t you gotten that spot yet?” He held a beer with his right hand and pointed the tip toward me, snapping his jaws and stripping me of dignity. He was lowering his moral standards just talking to me. “When are you going to paint that spot?” I told him I was getting to it, that it was just about to be painted. “I want that spot painted and I want this house to look good. I want to look good, yes. Yes.” He walked away. “Stupid nigger,” he mumbled under his breath as he opened the patio door. That was all I needed. That was it. He shut the door like the cocksucker he was, and I went to my car to grab a can of black paint. I brought it back and began painting over the white coat I started earlier. I painted like a man possessed. I slammed the brush against the wood and watched the bristles spray off in every direction, spattering black paint everywhere. I dipped my entire brush in paint again and drew a thick, black line across the wall. I stuck my hand into the bucket and soaked it in the paint. Then I punched the wall until my knuckles bled, which didn’t take long. I hopped off the ladder and threw the dripping bucket at the wall. The man came outside but I was already gone. I walked away.